Written by Nicholas Kamuda
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One of the oldest modern practices for reliability management is FMEA. Developed by the U.S. Army, FMEA stands for Failure Mode and Effects Analysis and was designed to gauge the possible effects of equipment failure on the personnel involved and on the equipment itself prior to service. Since it was developed in the 1940s, the use of FMEA has spread to many different manufacturing and business practices, including the Automotive Industry Action Group, which adopted it in 1993.

One of the central concepts in Failure Mode and Effects Analysis involves determining the breadth of the system involved. The reason why this is so important is that within one large system, specific events (both those that are Failure Modes and those that aren't) can be both Causes and Effects. By limiting the scope of an analysis, it is possible to determine which causes should be considered as Failure Modes.

In practice, complex systems can produce a large number of possible Failure Modes. Because each Failure Mode can potentially affect other systems, the number of possible effects from each functionally failed state can be far reaching. In RCM2 the embedded FMEA considers the potential consequences of nearly every realm of production and business management, including environmental integrity, efficiency, product quality, and of course, safety.

Tools for Organizing FMEA Data
There are many forms, and other kinds of software available to help teams organize and analyze FMEA data. In general, the software provides a database for organizing information from reliability assessment groups, and templates for generating different kinds of reports. Training for maintenance teams and management in FMEAs in the light of RCM2 is also available, as are supporting consulting services.

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